Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lust Queen - Don Elliott

She sat up casually, reaching for the bikini halter in such a way as to give me a momentary but vivid view, in profile, of her bare breasts. They reminded me of Lisa's. Not quite as opulent, perhaps, but certainly big enough, and high and firm and pointed, the nipples tipped sharply upward. An instant later she had the bikini straps tied, and she was uncoiling from the mattress like a sleepy panther awakening from a noonday nap. 

Cover art by Robert Bonfils

I'm hoping that there is a cold pool nearby for our narrator. It's sounds like he'll need it!

I don't own the original edition of this terrific lusty novel by Don Elliot, whom you will all know as writer Robert Silverberg. I do however have the nice two-fer edition produced by Stark House Press, which also comes with another Don Elliott classic, Lust Victim. There were a lot of "Lust" titles produced back in the day, and I would imagine it would be great fun checking them all out, purely for educational purposes mind you. I don't imagine they're so easy to find in their original formats. Thankfully Stark House Press is providing us fans a chance at reading them in these nice reprints. 

Originally published in 1961 by Midnight Readers (Greenleaf Classics) Lust Queen was reprinted in 1974 by Reed Nightstand Books as The Decadent, which I'm assuming is the version we have in the Stark House Edition due to references to the 70's and a handful of F-bombs dropped into the dialog here and there. Lust Queen is an interesting novel because it provides us a glimpse into a pulp writer's life as it might have been in 1960. Our hero Joey Baldwin makes a comfortable enough living as a "pulp hack" churning out detective stories under various pseudonyms when he's offered a ghost writing gig to write the autobiography of a reclusive Hollywood sex goddess, Mona Thorne. Miss Thorne has something of a notorious reputation for sexy films directed by husbands/lovers in a wake of scandalous affairs. For the past several years she's taken a reclusive existence in her Hollywood mansion, but is now on the verge of a comeback thanks to a juicy tell-all bio. The one condition that might be a problem for Joey, is that in order to write Mona's bio, he'll have to fly out to California and stay there for the next six weeks, until the book is finished. Not such an easy thing to consider for Joey, since he's engaged to his girlfriend Lisa. Still, the money offered for the gig is too good to pass up. So, with a reluctant (and steamy!) goodbye to Lisa, Joey's off to California to work with Mona on the book. 

Joey assumes he'll be living in a hotel, paid for by Mona and her studio, while he works on the book. At least that was the plan. Instead he's dropped off at Mona's lavish home where our sexpot movie star likes to lounge around her opulent digs in a topless bikini. After meeting Joey, Mona is having none of this putting him up in a hotel nonsense, and demands that he move into a room in her mansion. A room adjoining her own naturally. A room into which she waits all of a few hours before climbing into his bed and giving him a ride on the stuff dreams are made of.

Here is where the novel moves into an updated take on Sunset Blvd. Joey is keeping things moving along with his book outline, Mona is dishing the dirt on her life, and they're both screwing their brains out. But Mona is a bit of a head case. She doesn't do rejection, at all. She's had a whole lifetime of keeping men around her steppin' and fetchin' like their balls are on fire and their asses are ketchin'! But Joey has his fiancee Lisa waiting for him back home. His letters to Lisa are perfunctory. He has no intention of letting Lisa know his living arrangements while working on Mona's book. It's bad enough he feels like a heel for cheating on her. He tells himself it'll all be worth it once the book is done and the money for it is banked.

But...Lisa has other plans. Like a surprise visit to Joey. A surprise call from the airport and Joey's up to his ass in dames and trouble!

I enjoy the hell out of these old novels. Especially well-written ones like this one. Robert Silverberg produced these novels at an astounding rate in the 60's, in addition to his other work in the Science Fiction and Non-Fiction fields. His prose is effortless, which sounds like a cliche. If you've ever struggled through those snooty novels by so-called literature writers where you have to wade through slabs of prose to decipher that someone is jealous or horny, you really appreciate when a professional lays it out in a few clear and concise sentences.

I'm looking forward to reading the second novel Lust Victim. I'll let you know what I think about it. In the meantime, you should give these Stark House reprints a try. 

No comments:

Post a Comment